In principle, it is natural for there to exist fundamentalists. In fact, to stick to any kind of religious value system, academic theory, or political ideology can be considered a form of “fundamentalism.” While some people can adjust and change what they adhere to, it is exceedingly difficult for others, such as those who adhere to particular religious views, to make any change.
We should understand that poverty and ignorance are often interrelated. Because of poverty, it becomes difficult to access modern, pluralistic and global information. This may then lead to the isolation of culture and thinking, and result in discriminating against, belittling and rejecting whoever is different. Because of poverty, jealousy of the United States and other capitalist countries may arise. A sense of inferiority is transformed into extreme arrogance, which then leads to the detesting, despising and attacking of whoever is different.
Solutions. Military retaliation might have a temporary deterrent effect, but if a lasting peace is hoped for, we must take the following four steps with love and patience:
Provide economic aid in order to raise their productivity.
Support the improvement of educational facilities to give them access to modern, pluralistic, and global information.
Befriend them in a sincere manner to help them realize that: (1) only by respecting others will they receive others, respect, (2) only by tolerating those different from themselves can they achieve true and lasting security, and (3) only the power of love can permanently and fully conquer the world.
Encourage fundamentalists through cultural exchange and interaction to reinterpret their holy scriptures and teachings, so they themselves will adjust their values.
(Presented on February 3, 2002 at the World Economic Forum, New York)